Tag Archives: Q&A

Q&A with Dave Revsine, Author of ‘The Opening Kickoff: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation’

Dave Revsine (Courtesy Dave Revsine)

Dave Revsine (Courtesy Dave Revsine)

When Princeton football hosted Yale last November, the Ivy League-leading Tigers drew nearly 15,000 fans to Princeton Stadium. But that turnout pales in comparison to the frenzy surrounding the 1893 Princeton-Yale game, a clash between two undefeated powerhouse programs. In his new book, The Opening Kickoff, author and sports broadcaster Dave Revsine opens with a chronicle of that Thanksgiving Day game in Manhattan, which drew an estimated 50,000 spectators and illustrated how “football had become a big business.” Even before the turn of the century, the sport’s headlines had a distinctly modern feel: disputes about eligibility and improper benefits, concerns about the safety of the game, and coaches who aimed to use their celebrity status to stay on top. Revsine spoke with PAW in July about the role that Princeton and other prestigious institutions played in the early history of college football.

Your book begins with the 1893 Princeton-Yale game, which followed a decade of rapid growth in the popularity of college football. What was behind this explosion of interest?

There are a couple of factors. From the schools’ point of view, I think they very quickly understood that it was a great public-relations vehicle and that it was a way for them to make money. So, you had this huge explosion in the number of colleges … and you had this period where people were founding colleges and then searching for students to serve. Obviously this wasn’t a problem with the Princetons, Yales, and Harvards of the world, but it was certainly a problem with other schools: How are we going to differentiate ourselves? And they quickly saw football as a way to do it.

From the fans’ point of view, I think the newspapers play a huge role. People had some leisure time on their hands that they hadn’t had before, and football gave people an entree into the social elite because these teams were associated with these universities. You might not be a Yale or a Princeton grad, but you could be a Yale or a Princeton fan — and being a fan, by association, made you a part of Yale or Princeton. I think that was appealing to a lot of people.

The powers of college football then were academically distinguished institutions — Harvard, Yale, and Princeton — yet the game then was exceptionally brutal and bloody. How did the leaders at these places reconcile the brutality of the sport with the larger mission of their universities?

It depended on the school. Harvard, for years, was sort of the conscientious objector — but the conscientious objector who still participated. The president of Harvard was adamantly opposed to football and resisted getting into the fray with Yale. Yale was the first football factory, and as I say in the book, Walter Camp was the foreman. At times [Yale] would deny the brutality of football. They would say that while it might be brutal the way that it’s played out in the hinterlands, the way that we play it — the science of the sport — is not very brutal. Continue reading

Levine ’71 chronicles his musical friendship with the pope


During the end of the Cold War, Gilbert Levine ’71 was invited to become music director and conductor of the Krakow Philharmonic. As an American Jew whose grandparents had emigrated from Poland and whose mother-in-law’s entire family was killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, he initially did not jump at the offer. But he did accept, and his time in that position, from 1987 to 1993, led to his meeting Pope John Paul II and beginning a musical and spiritual friendship that would span 17 years. In his memoir, The Pope’s Maestro (Jossey-Bass), Levine chronicles that collaboration, the concerts he created and conducted for the pope, and their shared belief in the power of music to bring peace and heal religious wounds. He has been honored with the highest Pontifical Knighthood accorded a non-ecclesiastical musician since Mozart. Levine spoke with PAW’s Katherine Federici Greenwood.

Why did you hesitate to accept the position with the Krakow Philharmonic in 1987?
I had serious reservations on two grounds. One was the fact that it was very serious communist times. We now see in retrospect it was dissolving, but that’s not the way it looked in 1987. My wife came from the communist east, she was a refugee from Czechoslovakia. My mother-in-law had lost more than more than 40 relatives in the Holocaust. And Poland was where many of the worst of concentration and annihilation camps were located. It is just haunted by memories. A lot of that political and historical weight was very heavily on my mind.
So why did you finally decide to go? 

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Cantor ’64 on death and beyond


A professor emeritus at Rutgers Law School, Newark, Norman L. Cantor ’64 has spent years studying and writing about the legal aspects of death and dying, including end-of-life decisions, living wills, and assisted suicide. In his latest book, After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver (Georgetown University Press), he has turned to the rights and handling of human remains.  Cantor examines when persons are considered dead, the decomposition of the body, the history of burial, embalming, and cremation, and uses of cadavers such as for organ transplant and medical research. Along the way he includes anecdotes, including one about a husband who wanted to be buried at sea to spite his wife, who had declared that she wanted to dance on his grave. Cantor spoke with PAW’s Katherine Federici Greenwood.

Why did you want to study the rights of cadavers and the handling of postmortem human remains?
I had always had some curiosity about whether death ends the legal protection afforded to the now deceased or whether there might be remaining rights. And then there were a number of controversies that crystallized the question. My stepbrother, when he died in 1973, had left controversial instructions, and they were, in fact, implemented, but I wondered about the legal boundaries. He wanted a New Orleans-style wake and funeral in Trenton, N.J. And that meant a Dixieland band at the funeral home playing music during the wake and a procession from the funeral home to cemetery. My stepfather was a little scandalized by the unconventional request.
And then years later the Ted Williams case in 2003 [when the baseball player’s daughter wanted his ashes scattered over the Florida Keys and his son wanted his corpse frozen until a cure could be found and he could be brought back to life] and the death of Anna Nicole Smith in 2007 [and the controversy about where she wanted to be buried] — those public controversies over the handling of remains triggered my curiosity all over again.

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Barkley *93 showcases houses in new book


Architect Joel Barkley *93 has designed stunning homes inspired by a wide range of styles. Some of his most impressive projects — from a stately, Colonial Revival country house in New Jersey (pictured below) to a Hawaiian beach retreat and a sleek Manhattan loft — are featured in a new book, Houses (The Monacelli Press). One of the founding partners of Ike Kligerman Barkley, an architectural and interior design firm with offices in New York City and San Francisco, Barkley spoke with PAW’s Katherine Federici Greenwood about his work and his bees.

What do you seek to capture when designing a house for a client?
Usually with a client and a site there’s a given situation, whether it’s the client’s personality or the character of the houses around the given site or the history of architecture in a given place. So you never get a tabula rasa. And so what we always do at the beginning is listen to everything, whether it’s the neighboring buildings or the client. But that’s not to say we’re not in the mood to do something that’s just in our brain. We come with our own theme. So it is listening but also being ready with our own way of processing stuff.
The architect Robert A.M. Stern calls Ike, Kligerman, and Barkley “modern traditionalists” who “build for the here and now but are at home in architecture’s history, from which their work gains its strength.” 

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Q&A with Garden Project leader Colleen McCullough ’12

Students at the Garden Project prepare the soil on a recent workday. (Colleen McCullough ’12)
The Garden Project at Forbes College offers students a unique Friday afternoon study break opportunity: weeding, harvesting vegetables, or painting the shed. The project, which started in 2007 and aims to educate the campus about the American food system, holds weekly “workdays” where members help out with tasks around the garden. The garden provides fresh produce to the Forbes Dining Hall, local artisan ice cream shop Bent Spoon, the Greening Princeton Farmers’ Market, nearby vendors, and special campus events. The garden also hosts cooking demonstrations, lectures, and movies. The Weekly Blog’s Tara Thean 13 sat down with Colleen McCullough ’12, the group’s transitional adviser, to talk about where The Garden Project is headed.
How has membership been in the new academic year?
This year we’ve got a lot of new faces, and we’re hiring new officers – we’re trying to set more of a precedent for future leaders of the garden. We have six new officers for next year and two unpaid interns training to pick up as officers. We’re hoping that by engaging more students in leadership roles we can increase student involvement so it’s less concentrated in two people – Eva Wash ’11 and myself – and reach out to more people. We’ve also been working with a lot of student groups, like Slow Food Princeton and Greening Princeton, which really helps bring people in. And we’re trying to interact more with the [residential] college system.
How have you been interacting with the residential college system?
We’re technically part of Forbes College, so they help us with funding. The Forbes director of studies, Patrick Caddeau, is very involved with the garden. We advertise our events in the Forbes newsletter, and we have various workdays that we particularly advertise to Forbes residents. It just makes more sense for them to be involved.

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Q&A with ‘Top Model’ contestant Jane Randall ’12

Jane Randall ’12 (© Mathieu Young/The CW)
For many Princeton students, summer break is a great time to travel abroad, intern with a congressman, or work on particle accelerators in a lab. Jane Randall ’12, however, spent her summer quite differently: on reality TV. The lean 5-foot-9-inch history major and former varsity lacrosse player appears this month on Cycle 15 of America’s Next Top Model (ANTM), a reality show aimed at giving women a chance to start their career in the modeling industry. Randall, who plans to take a semester off to pursue modeling, spoke with The Weekly Blog’s Tara Thean ’13.
Why did you decide to audition for the show?
I was looking into modeling – I sent my picture to a couple of agencies. Then I was watching Gossip Girl and a little thing popped up about how to audition [for ANTM], so I sent in a picture I had taken in my dorm room.
Can you remember the moment when you got in?
I was really excited when I found out I got in, but it was during finals. Right after I made the show I had to go for a photo shoot in Los Angeles. [Deputy registrar] Robert Bromfield told me that the show’s auditions did not count as an excuse to miss finals, so I got really lucky that I finished all my papers. After the shoot, I went back to Princeton and took a history final at 9 a.m.
Was the show what you expected?
I can never look at reality TV the same way again. Just from knowing how the cameramen tell people to move around, how things can be edited to project any storyline … it’s definitely been frustrating, but it’s exciting to watch. Everything goes by very fast – it’s one of the most physically, immensely exhausting experiences ever. I took the rest of the summer off.

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Blanchard ’74 explores the life of a secluded couple


In 1949 Art and Nan Kellam — an aviation engineer and his wife — decided to leave “civilization” and seek a simpler life, on an uninhabited island off the Maine coast. They bought 550-acre Placentia Island and lived there together until 1985, without electricity. They built their house and would row two miles to Bass Harbor to get supplies and mail. Peter P. Blanchard III ’74 first met Nan in 1987, two years after her husband had died. Blanchard was a volunteer with Maine’s chapter of The Nature Conservancy, to which the Kellams had given their island. (Nan died in 2001.) Blanchard recently wrote We Were An Island: The Maine Life of Art & Nan Kellam (University Press of New England), drawing on Nan’s journal, an unpublished manuscript the couple had written about their adventure, and their letters and correspondence. Blanchard spoke with PAW’s Katherine Federici Greenwood.

You first met Nan in 1987. Can you describe that meeting and what she was like?
I was sort of an emissary of good will [for The Nature Conservancy]. I was taken out there by a lobsterman who regularly helped Nan do chores after her husband died. She was living there by herself. I went out and had every intention to impress her. I carried what I thought was her favorite desert, strawberry ice cream. Unfortunately it had been placed next to the engine of the lobster boat. The ice cream had turned into a melted soup so when I opened the door the ice cream slipped from me and fell quite a bit on her and down the steps to the wonderful footprints the two had left in cement at the bottom of the stairwell. Not a way to start a friendship. … I [read] her actual journal entry for that day. She said, “I want to make sure the lobsterman sees this fellow off the island.” But then we became good friends.

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Q&A with Everest explorer Vanessa Folkerts ’11


Vanessa Folkerts ’11 (Lakpa Rita Sherpa)
Vanessa Folkerts ’11 took a break during her Princeton career to pursue her passion for mountain climbing. She became the youngest European woman to summit Mount Everest in May 2010 and has returned to finish her final year of school. A history concentrator who grew up in London, she is focusing her independent work on the history of Tibetan medicine and plans to attend medical school after graduation. The Weekly Blog’s John Wetenhall ’11 sat down with Folkerts to hear her story.
Where did you get the idea to climb Everest?
It didn’t actually start with Everest. So many people see that as the be all and end all of climbing. It’s the most well-known mountain, it’s a brand name at this stage, but for me it was never, "Start to climb because then one day you’ll get to the top of Everest." And for me, now climbing also hasn’t ended just because I’ve happened to have been there.
When did you first start climbing?
My first introduction to climbing was in the summer right before coming to Princeton. I wanted to do something completely different, and previously it had always been competitive music courses. I play the violin. … I took an Outward Bound course in Alaska, which is supposed to be their most [physically] strenuous one … and I really enjoyed that.

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Q&A with ‘Drop Dead Diva’ creator Josh Berman ’91

In the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva, Deb, a skinny, blond wannabe model, is killed in a car accident and convinces heaven’s gatekeeper to send her back to earth. But a mix-up ensues, and she re-emerges in the body of recently deceased Jane, a smart, plus-sized attorney (and Princeton alumna). Josh Berman ’91, creator and an executive producer of the show, which is now in its second season, spoke with PAW’s Katherine Federici Greenwood.

What message are you trying to convey about body weight and beauty?

That beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and in order to be beautiful you have to be confident. What Jane discovers is an inner confidence that she never had when she was a size zero. But now as a plus-size lawyer, she actually has confidence. Beauty coming from within is not something you normally see in a TV show, especially in Hollywood, which can be so obsessed with body image and who’s gaining a pound here or there. … It’s a very different way to approach the legal genre and a different way of writing about women.

The show is about more than body weight — it follows Jane and her friends as they deal with relationships and work.

You’re absolutely right. A reviewer in this week’s National Enquirer … said Drop Dead Diva is the best legal fantasy drama since Ally McBeal, which also was created by a Princeton graduate, David Kelley [’79]. … I thought that was the best TV show ever made, and to have a reviewer compare me to Ally McBeal was the ultimate flattery without ever mentioning that the lead is a plus-size woman, which is ironic because Ally McBeal was about a woman who was a size zero.

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Tiger of the Week: Jesse Liebman ’03

Jesse Liebman ’03 did not come to Princeton planning to be an actor. In fact, the classics major didn’t walk onto a campus stage until his sophomore year, when he auditioned for the Triangle Club. He would go on to write, direct, and act in Triangle shows, and since graduation, he has honed his acting skills in theatrical productions and at the New Actors Workshop in New York.

This Friday, Liebman’s career takes a new turn with the release of the movie Did You Hear About the Morgans?, a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. Liebman plays the assistant to Grant’s character and finds himself in a budding romance with the assistant to Parker’s character, played by Elisabeth Moss. One of Liebman’s classmates alerted us to the actor’s latest role, and Liebman spoke with PAW’s Brett Tomlinson Dec. 15, the day after the New York premiere of Did You Hear About the Morgans?.

Is this your first major role in a feature film?

“It is both the first role and my first major role — the first in many ways. Otherwise, I’ve done entirely theater work since graduating from college.”

What have been your other recent highlights as an actor?

“This year has been great because I co-directed and co-starred in a version of Waiting for Godot that I was able to perform in Paris twice. So it’s been a very rewarding year with new experiences both in theater and in film.”

You were a member of the Triangle Club at Princeton. Was there anything specific from that experience that inspired you to pursue acting professionally?

“In the back of my mind, I always wanted ‘acting training.’ I don’t think I said that I wanted to be an actor, but I wanted to go through the training process. And Triangle was that type of training process. Triangle has not only this great tradition of performing arts, but each class has its own energy, most represented in the Freshman Week show. … It just seemed like everyone was having so much fun. The collaborative energy and the level of professionalism really stood out.”

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Tribeca connection

Q&A with writer, director, and producer Jac Schaeffer ’00


As an undergraduate, Jac Schaeffer ’00 poured her extracurricular energies into Triangle Club, Theatre Intime, and the Princeton Shakespeare Company. But the California native found her calling in film. After earning a master’s degree at the USC School of Cinema, she began working as a director, writer, and producer in independent movies and documentaries, following a career path she’d thought about since her teenage years. On April 26, Schaeffer will premiere her first full-length feature, the romantic comedy TiMER, at the Tribeca Film Festival. She spoke with PAW’s Brett Tomlinson earlier this month.

TiMER is a love story that also looks at issues of technology in our lives. In the movie, people are able to implant a chip that counts down to the exact moment that you’ll meet your true love. Is that an accurate setup?

Yes, that’s it.

What happens from there?

Well, the idea is that the technology allows this to happen, but the catch is that if you get a TiMER implanted, in order for you to have a countdown your soul mate also has to have a TiMER. The plight of the protagonist is that everyone around her has countdowns, but her TiMER is blank. Her soul mate does not have a TiMER, so she systematically dates guys who don’t have TiMERs and then convinces them to get TiMERs, only to be disappointed time and time again.

Her situation is actually the real-world situation: We’re all walking around with a question mark and with doubts and confusion. The fact that the answer is possible for her is what really screws her up. So she sort of gets frustrated with the whole thing and ends up falling for a guy who has a countdown of four months. And then, the story gets fun.

What was your inspiration for this storyline?

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Office addition

i-74e846bbdbed935b59b5d2b4c182d3a9-Ellie1.jpgTiger of the Week: Ellie Kemper ’02

Ellie Kemper ’02 landed a dream job last week: She took over as Dunder Mifflin’s new receptionist on NBC’s The Office. Any role on a hit comedy would be a big boost for a young actress, but this one was particularly special for Kemper, a “huge fan” of the show. “Being on set with them is like being in a dream, except the dream is real and I can reach out and touch them,” she told PAW. “Except I am trying not to touch them too much, because I was raised right.”

Kemper’s character made an immediate impression on office mates Dwight and Andy, who angled for her attention on last week’s show. The performance also impressed PAW: She’s our Tiger of the Week.

Kemper, an English major from St. Louis, Mo., honed her comedic skills as an undergraduate with the Princeton improv group Quipfire! and the Princeton Triangle Club. For more from her brief e-mail interview with PAW, click below.

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